After UCLA learned that their top basketball recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, was declared ineligible by the NCAA due to what in their opinion was violating amateurism rules, Ben Howland’s 13th ranked squad could have let that distract them as they were re-christening Pauley Pavilion on Friday night.
It was to the Bruins’ credit that they did no such thing as they began their season by beating Indiana State – a team that, incidentally, John Wooden coached before coming to Westwood in 1948 – solidly, 86-59, in front of a sellout crowd of 13,513 fans that included such former Bruin luminaries as Reggie Miller and Ed O’ Bannon.
It was a good thing that Muhammad was merely a part of a stellar recruiting class rather than the only recruit as Jordan Adams, in his first college game and coming off the bench no less, led everyone with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Kyle Anderson, another freshman making his collegiate debut, had a double-double in soring ten points and grabbing the same number of boards, and the Wear twins were in fine form, provding a good veteran presence with David getting 13 points and matching Anderson in rebounds, while Travis scored 17 points and grabbed seven boards.
The Burins started off a bit slowly, being tied with the mid-major Sycamores at 11 midway through the first half before starting to assert themselves into a nine-point lead at halftime. Order was restored as they outscored Indiana State 50-32 in the second half.
Now that the season’s underway, UCLA will continue breaking in the New Pauley by playing UC Irvine on Tuesday the 13th, following that up with James Madison on Thursday the 15th.
“It was a really strong win for us, to open up New Pauley Pavilion…Overall, it was a good beginning and hopefully, we will build on it,” Howland commented after the game.